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Forrest Hamilton

Forrest Hamilton

Growing up in the boondocks has its advantages. From my second floor bedroom window, I can vividly remember seeing the Moon-lit rural Indiana countryside stretching for many miles in the distance. On hot humid August evenings I would feast on the visual smorgasbord of the summer Milky Way stretching from horizon to horizon. For as far back as I can remember, I've always had a fascination with the sky. This interest almost certainly arose from the environment that I was privileged to grow up in. To this very day, the country near Grass Creek, Indiana is still relatively dark, although the ominous glow of Chicago, 120 miles distant, is visible on the northwestern horizon. Unlike cities where the visual environment is consumed in manmade constructs, the flat country landscape affords unavoidable, and many times, spectacular views of the sky, especially at night. Thus it was inevitable that things up there piqued my interest.

I did not actually look through a telescope until age 11 when my dad purchased a Kmart Focal 40 mm refractor, which I was allowed to use on occasion. Though by today's standards, a 40 mm aperture telescope is small, to me it was a magical instrument. By saving up money from a summer job, I purchased my first big telescope, an 8" Newtonian, which I still use today. Since then I have built several telescopes including a computer-controlled 12.5" Newtonian. There's nothing like the thrill of "first light" with a telescope that you built with your own hands.

After graduating from Lewis Cass High School in Walton, Indiana, I went on to obtain a B.S. in Astrophysics from Indiana University. After a short stint as an auto mechanic at a local Sears store, I went on to become a programmer/analyst at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD. Once there it became apparent that the sky I remembered back in the country no longer existed. This motivated me to volunteer as a web master for the International Dark-Sky Association to help save the awesome night vistas for others - among them my wife Jackie and sons Michael and Alex.